I can't work. I need to work. But I'm here and on dozens of other sites.

I read Paul Graham's essay about "Disconnecting Distractions" and this is actually something I tried before - using my other laptop only for Internet access and this one only for work.

But then I fell back to using my work computer to access the internet - there's always an excuse to hit FN+F2 to reconnect my WiFi access - and so easy!

How can I make it so painfully difficult to get back online on my work computer each time that I just won't want to bother except in an emergency.

(I use a wifi router for all of my internet access - it's in the other room but I share it with others so I can't just disconnect it).

17 Answers 17


Restrict access to your laptop's MAC address on the router - then you'll need to go to another machine and disable it before you can move on.

You could also block port 80 to your machine ONLY at certain hours of the day when you're meant to be working.

  • +1 for the port blocking idea, I should try that. – Sasha Chedygov Aug 31 '09 at 7:08
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    You'll just end up tunnelling via SSH... – Rich Bradshaw Aug 31 '09 at 8:39
  • @Rich - I didn't think of that. I wish I could erase your comment from my mind. – lipton Sep 1 '09 at 0:52
  • Block your SSH port then ;) My Modem/Router can turn on and off connections completely if I had such a need. – salmonmoose Sep 1 '09 at 7:51

I don't want to sound offensive or off-topic, but it might be that you should work on your anxieties, your work habits and such, not on tools you use.

Been there, done that. I've learned to circumvent all the technological means of disconnecting the Internet I could think of (it doesn't help that I'm a programmer by trade).

My advice is to seek professional psychological help. Change your ways so that you don't mind your superuser reputation (or any Internet distraction) that much. Good luck.

  • 3
    That's too reasonable. I need a hack. – lipton Aug 31 '09 at 7:15
  • 4
    I've spent 3 years looking for that single magic hack. There is no hack. Life can be likened to a game, but there are no cheat codes. For start - read Neil Fiore's ,,The Now Habit'' book, that might give you some ideas. – Tadeusz A. Kadłubowski Aug 31 '09 at 7:20
  • Just read an excerpt on Amazon. Thanks. I'm gonna take a closer look at that. Sounds like it describes me pretty well. – lipton Aug 31 '09 at 7:30

Uninstall your network adapters :D


Edit your hosts file for all your favorite time wasting sites and have them redirect to a small Apache server with a html page that tells you to get back to work ...

or you could make it host a Rick roll video =D

So you get punished every time you stray online.

  • 1
    That's not a bad idea. Except it would be ridiculously easy to re-edit the hosts file. It would only work if I could password-protect the hosts file from another user account or something ridiculous like that. – lipton Aug 31 '09 at 6:55
  • Getting a positive feedback (a treat) each time you get to work would be more effective than punishing each time you get online. – Tadeusz A. Kadłubowski Aug 31 '09 at 7:14
  • Disable wireless zero service
  • uninstall network adapter drivers
  • statically set incorrect ip configurations
  • open cmd and type "ipconfig /release" then disable command prompt for your account
  • using AutoHotkey, bind something like Mousewheel Down to a backspace, to make surfing painful.
  • Another AutoHotkey trick would be to check if a Firefox/IE window is open using IfWinActive, and if it is, bind your Enter key to backspace. Eventually you will get annoyed typing in addresses then backspacing it all, even if you can still click the go button.
  • Disable browsers altogether with AutoHotkey. Using IfWinActive and WinClose, you can check to see if a browser is open. If one does open, force it closed and present a messagebox along the lines of "Get back to work".

Just some suggestions, I wouldn't recommend using all. But to be honest, you need to work on your will power and self control a little bit, this shouldn't be necessary :P

  • That could work. Will I need my system restore CD if I want to reinstall the network adapters? Or will Windows just reinstall them automatically? I just don't want to mess up my system permanently. Wireless Zero seems too easy to re-enable. What about the ip stuff? Isn't that easy to undo also? – lipton Aug 31 '09 at 6:40
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    I like your thinking on AutoHotKey. I already use it for a bunch of other stuff. But I don't think that's going to work. For one thing I don't use the mousewheel while I'm surfing. – lipton Aug 31 '09 at 6:44
  • Network adapters will require the hardware manufacturer's drivers to be reinstalled, you can grab them off the website them leave them on your USB stick. You can find out which adapter you have through device manager (devmgmt.msc in the run dialog). The IP release can be fixed with ipconfig /renew, but you will need to reenable your command prompt first as well. – John T Aug 31 '09 at 6:45
  • Thanks. My user account is defined as having administrator privileges so I'm not even sure if I can disable command prompt for it. – lipton Aug 31 '09 at 6:51
  • You can, it's a simple registry edit. Under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System set DisableCMD to 1. – John T Aug 31 '09 at 6:53

Physically remove your wireless adapter.

...If its on a laptop, it might get kinda hard but...

  • Yeah, it's a laptop. Not sure that would be such a good idea :) – lipton Aug 31 '09 at 6:54
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    Yeah, probably not, unless you're feeling adventurous. But if you were, it'd probably be the best way to keep yourself offline. (Physically remove the wireless card and lock it in your boss's safe, and maybe melt the connector for good measure ;-) – David Z Aug 31 '09 at 7:02

I recommend Leechblock if you use Firefox. You can use it to set the time you are allowed to access timewasting sites.

If you use another browser then the hosts file solution would work (but might be too course).

You should also make it as hard as possible to launch distracting programs and urls. So remove all shortcuts, remove bookmarks, and maybe even disable autocompletion of urls etc. You want to increase the effort of wasting time until it's easy to just do some work.

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Ask your friendly IT department to block all unproductive sites; also, ask them to automatically redirect you to a local intranet webpage threatening you to "Do your job, or else...". That's what they did where I work and it did the job :).

For bonus points, also kindly ask them to uninstall all your browsers and leave you with only IE6; I'd rather go to the post office to get my mail than to try checking my Gmail account.


Since you're on a laptop, you need a good way to disable the wireless.

  • get an old microwave oven
  • tear the door off
  • put it on your desk next to your laptop
  • turn it on

Now your wireless will have too much interference to talk to the router.

Problem Solved!

  • 1
    Also comes with the health effects of a radar operator from the War. – u0b34a0f6ae Aug 31 '09 at 9:18

Just replace your browser icon with a script that delays a couple of minutes before starting the browser. That will give you the time to master your moral inner forces.
Now excuse me, I REALLY need to go back to my work.


Rescue Time will handle it for you. You can tell it how much time you want to spend on distractions. After the time is up, it will block you.


Not sure if it is possible, but how about setting your DNS servers to some incorrect IP address? This way the network would still work, but you would still connect to other computers in the local network using their IP.

Being able to still connect to local servers is a necessity for me at least, since I have to connect to a source control server...

  • Not sure I understand but I don't need to connect to other computers in the local network. Do you still recommend this? – lipton Aug 31 '09 at 6:53
  • Well, I'm just saying it might be an option :) – Svish Aug 31 '09 at 19:44

Install an Internet Filter (not sure of any good ones) which should allow you to individually block access to the websites. This does put the responsibility of adding them (and keeping them there) into your hands.

  • Sadly I can't be trusted. – lipton Aug 31 '09 at 7:07

Use some sort of Web-Blocking software? (OpenDNS comes to mind)

Install, and get someone else to enter the administrator password, and make sure they throw it away (or make it too complex) :)


Following up on John T's idea, use this autohotkey script:

#SetTitleMatchMode, 2
SetTimer, KeepBrowsersOffline, 100

IfWinActive, "Firefox"
    MsgBox, "Get Back to Work! (nice try)"
IfWinActive, "Internet Explorer"
    MsgBox, "Get Back to Work! (nice try)"
IfWinActive, "Opera"
    MsgBox, "Get Back to Work! (nice try)"
;repeat for any other browsers you might use

Now convert it to an EXE (to prevent uninstalling autohotkey), lock it in a deep dark corner of your system where you need a password to do anything to it. Set the password to some random stuff you couldn't possibly remember. Then put a shortcut in the Startup folder and lock that entire folder down.

Result: no browser will run on your system for more than a 10th of a second!


No software is going to work - because it's too easy to circumvent.

Best way is the hard way - get a circuit timer. Connect your modem to the circuit timer, and set aside a stipulated time for it to cut the electricity to the modem.

Now - get a carpenter to build a lockbox around the wall socket (and even better, around the modem too). Lock it, and give the key to a neighbor you really hate interacting with.

Sometimes, superusers solve things by interacting with the physical world. :) And those solutions usually are the best solutions.

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